If you’re building your personal brand with the help of freelancers like copywriters, graphic designers, coaches, or web consultants, you should be preparing a creative brief for each project.

Creative briefs are short documents, typically just 1 or 2 pages long. They save time, money, and frustration by identifying the crucial elements of a project.

Creative briefs eliminate misunderstandings. They help clients and vendors address potential problem areas as soon as possible, defining and agreeing upon topics like:

  • Project goals
  • Target market
  • Main and secondary ideas
  • Call to action
  • Deliverables

Creative briefs should be filled-out and signed by both parties at the beginning of each project. They can be filled-out by hand, or created using word processing or spreadsheet software.

Creative briefs differ from proposals in that they are not focused on costs, but–instead–the focus is exclusively on project details and mutual expectations. If additional details are needed, they can be referenced and provided in a memo or addendum.

When do creative briefs make sense?

Creative briefs are appropriate for preparing all marketing and promotional materials, including:

  • Book cover design
  • Back cover copy
  • One sheets
  • Speaker’s kits
  • Seminar and teleconference marketing
  • Blog design and setup
  • Search engine optimization

In the case of large projects, you can use separate creative briefs for each step, indicating the tasks to be completed, the information or approvals clients will provide, and deadlines. Examples of separate tasks include:

  • Research
  • Copywriting
  • Creative design
  • Production and layout
  • Coding

Why are creative briefs so important?

Mutual expectations are highest at the start of a project. In the rush to get started, client and vendor both assume the best about each other. As a result, important details may get overlooked…only to surface later on in a barrage of I thought, and But, I thought… conversations and emails.

In the resulting rushed atmosphere, it’s important to take the time to mutually fully explore the details of your pending project in as much detail as possible.

At a time when the skills of so many people, often freelancers, are involved in creating even simple personal branding projects, it’s essential that everyone’s expectations are spelled out in detail well before work begins.

Have you used creative briefs?

Share your experiences working with vendors, both with and without the benefit of creative briefs. And, if you’d like to learn more about creative briefs, feel free to download a PDF copy of my creative brief example, shown above,  to use a model for creating your own creative brief.


Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. Visit Roger’s blog to learn more about writing productivity tips or to ask a question.